Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Dreaded R Word

I got some feedback for my WIP over the weekend, and I’m still digesting it all.

Many of the “issues” are easily fixed—factual corrections, simple actions my characters did that were way out of, uh, character, needless repetition, needless repetition, needless repetition.

Other things went much deeper, and will require more time to correct:

  • Make characters nicer.
  • Make characters meaner.
  • Change some motivations.
  • Ramp up the tension.
  • Change the beginning.
  • Change the middle.
  • Change the ending.
  • Introduce more possible suspects.
  • Eliminate a flat character.
  • Reduce the number of alien abductions.
  • Move scenes around.
  • Delete scenes.
  • Add scenes.
  • Change scenes.

With all this work ahead of me, am I overwhelmed?

On the contrary. I think I see my work a lot better now, and I’m confident that making these changes will result in a much stronger story (it’s amazing how clear some problems are after someone else reads the manuscript).

But next time, I’m going to skip the first couple drafts and go straight to the third draft.

What about you, writers? Do you feel encouraged or discouraged facing a slew of revisions?



Anonymous said...

Alan - Your post was very timely for me. I'm facing the same thing with my own WIP. On one hand, my WIP is going to be much, much better with the changes I need to make. Those revision ideas were right on target. So in that sense I'm encouraged: it's obvious that my beta reader understood what I'm trying to accomplish, etc.

On the other, I have work to do, and it's the time involved in doing it that's making me a little discouraged. Oh well, rolling up sleeves and getting to work is the only way to do it.

Travis Erwin said...

Depends if the revisions are things I can see i am excited but if i ask myself, How the hell am i gonna do that? I feel nothing but dread at first.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I usually feel a little discouraged, but like you, I also feel like I've got some good editorial direction on what to do to fix any problem areas.

Those alien abductions have got to go? Too bad! :)

Vincent H. O'Neil said...

Luckily it sounds like you see these suggestions as taking your work in a positive direction, so in that case I suppose I'd be happy. I've had similar experiences, where some suggestions were helpful and others not so much, so I guess it's always a mixed bag. I did find comfort in noticing (at least in my copyedited manuscripts) that there was usually a blizzard of ink on the first few pages and then it settled down to a manageable level--anybody else have that experience?

Alan Orloff said...

Margot - You're right. It's best just to get started.

Travis - Sometimes when I get the urge to revise, I lie down until it passes.

Elizabeth - When in doubt, always throw in another alien abduction.

Vinnie - Hmm. My blizzard of ink carries on throughout the whole thing! I hope I'll see you again at Malice.

Ricky Bush said...

I completely re-wrote three chapter in my WIP, then wondered why.

Hart Johnson said...

•Change the beginning.
•Change the middle.
•Change the ending

Okay, I had to laugh out loud at this (the literal kind, not the online kind)--too funny.

Feedback and revisions can cheer or frustrate me and I think it depends on whether I think the person 'got what I was aiming at' or not. Some readers are happy to give feedback, but you get a feel they really just want it to be a different kind of work altogether. And some are too easy on you... and some give things that contradict what OTHERS think.

I have a few writer friends though, that help a TON and i LOVE their feedback--one in particular is a high school teacher and instead of 'fixing it' she asks the question that gets me to look at it and fix in MY voice--LOVE that.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Tomorrow I start my final revisions to my 6th Odelia novel based on feedback from publisher. While it seems daunting, remember that in the end, it's to make the book better - much better.

Alan Orloff said...

Ricky - I think we've all been there. On multiple occasions.

Hart - You definitely need to know where you critiquers are coming from. It takes some experience to know when to listen and when to ignore.

Sue Ann - Yes, let's not forget why we're doing all this: to make the book better.

Patricia Stoltey said...

The first time I saw my editor's comments and suggestions, my heart sank to my toes. Turned out not to be so bad, because she didn't have too many problems with plot or characters. Now I see that part of the writing game as a learning experience. It's not so overwhelming that way.